Justice Lee obtained a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree from the University of Adelaide in 1976. He began his career in 1977 as a civil engineer at the Public Works Department (PWD) and was posted to its Changi Airport Development Division. From 1977 to 1981, he was in charge of various civil engineering works in the Changi Airport project, from earthworks to roads, aircraft pavements and drainage. He established the Airport Engineering Course at the Singapore Civil Aviation Training Centre and was a part-time instructor for the course. Arising from this, Justice Lee has a keen in interest in civil aviation and airport management issues. From 1981 to 1982, he was posted to the Airbases Redevelopment Team of the PWD where he took charge of civil engineering works in various military airbases in Singapore. He undertook part-time studies at the National University of Singapore to earn a Masters of Engineering (Construction Engineering) degree in 1982.
In 1983, Justice Lee obtained an MBA (Distinction) from INSEAD at Fontainebleau, France. Upon his return he was seconded to Indeco Engineers Pte Ltd, a government linked company. He was in charge of business development of the company which was in the area of airport project management and engineering services. Justice Lee obtained his registration with the Professional Engineers Board as a Professional Engineer (Civil Engineering) in 1983.
Justice Lee read law at the National University of Singapore, where he obtained an LL.B (Hons) in 1986, and at Cambridge University where he earned an LL.M (Hons) in 1987. From 1987 to 1997, he served as Deputy Public Prosecutor and State Counsel (later, Senior State Counsel) at the AGC and undertook stints at the Crime Division where he was involved in criminal prosecution, the Civil Division where he undertook civil litigation as well as provided legal advice to the government, and the International Affairs Division, dealing with international law issues. He was admitted an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore in 1991.
Justice Lee was appointed a Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court in 1997 and served in that capacity until 2002. He was concurrently the President of the Industrial Arbitration Court from 1999 to 2002. He returned to the AGC as Solicitor-General in 2002. In January 2003, he was appointed Senior Counsel. In 2006, he was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore.
From 2006 to 2022, Justice Lee was a member of the Legal Services Commission (LSC). The LSC was in charge of promotion, hiring and disciplinary matters of officers in the Singapore Legal Service, which by 2022, numbered almost 800 lawyers.
He is also comfortable working in French.
As Senior State Counsel in the AGC, Justice Lee was one of its principal litigators representing the government of Singapore in civil litigation. Justice Lee has defended the government in High Court suits ranging from tortious claims, such as malicious prosecution and causing wrongful death, to construction disputes. He was also counsel for the government in a number of high value arbitrations involving building and construction claims, some of which were settled after mediation. In 1995, Justice Lee acted for the government in the first dispute brought before the World Trade Organization under its dispute settlement regime.
Information Technology In The Legal Sector
In 1988, Justice Lee joined the AGC computerisation committee, marking the start of more than three decades of involvement in the technology transformation of the legal sector in Singapore.
He was appointed a director of the Computer Information Systems Division in 1989, which was responsible for the digitalisation of files and research material as well as transforming the AGC from a paper-based to an IT-based organisation. He was involved in the conceptualisation, and then took charge of the development, of LawNet, which had its roots as a portal providing digital access to Singapore Statutes, electronic application for legal requisitions for property conveyancing, and data in the then Registry of Companies.
When the Singapore Academy of Law took over the management of LawNet in 1995, Justice Lee continued to steer its development - initially as project manager, and later as chair of LawNet Management Committee. LawNet very soon became the primary source of electronic legal research for the local legal sector, serving as a one-stop portal providing a comprehensive suite of information and transactional solutions for Singapore and the global legal community. Under his stewardship, the LawNet Management Committee (renamed Legal Technology Cluster Committee in 2015) drove the sector's IT transformation and published the Legal Technology Vision in 2017. This five-year roadmap aimed to promote the use of technology to enhance operations in Singapore's legal sector, launching various national initiatives that included the Future Law Innovation Programme in 2018. This programme brought together lawyers, technopreneurs, investors, academics, and regulators to transform the delivery of legal services.
Justice Lee also chaired the review committee on the Electronic Filing System (EFS), launched in 2000, which was Singapore's first-generation digital court system. He then led the committee in the Supreme Court to develop the next generation Electronic Litigation System (eLit), which is a case-centric e-document system to replace the EFS. eLit was launched in 2013 and continues to be used in the Singapore judiciary.
Justice Lee also took a special interest in developing procedures and practices for online trials, becoming the first judge in the High Court to conduct a fully online trial in July 2020 amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Building & Construction and Complex Litigation
Given his background, Justice Lee has a special interest in construction litigation as well as disputes involving complex engineering or scientific issues. He has presided over numerous trials in these areas ranging from litigation under the Building and Construction (Security of Payments) Act to damages claims for defective works and structural design failure. Many of these trials involved experts such as structural, geotechnical and mechanical engineers, quantity surveyors, delay consultants and scientists.
The following are the judgments that Justice Lee has issued in this area:
Justice Lee has presided over a number of ground-breaking cases in disputes involving information technology, an area that he has been intimately involved in throughout his legal career. He participated in the development of the case law in Singapore on electronic discovery and has delivered judgments in the new areas of crypto-currency and NFTs.
The following are the judgments of Justice Lee in the IT space:
Justice Lee has also presided over many trials involving intellectual property claims ranging from copyright to trademarks to patents. Again, with his engineering background, he has a special interest in technical patents.
The following are the IP judgments that he has written:
Legal Service Commission
Justice Lee was a member of the Legal Service Commission from April 2006 to January 2022. This was a period of rapid expansion of the Singapore Legal Service (SLS), from about 300 officers in 2006 to 800 by the time he stepped down in 2022. Justice Lee chaired various committees to improve the human resource policies of the SLS and was closely involved in the assessment and promotion of Legal Officers.
Justice Lee joined the ASEAN Law Association (ALA) in 2003 and has chaired the Singapore National Committee in various periods in the two decades following that. In 2015, he presented the paper “ALA at the Crossroads” which steered a new direction in the then 35-year old association. Justice Lee was involved in the conceptualisation and bringing into fruition of the ASEAN Chief Justice’s Meeting hosted by Singapore in 2013. This was renamed the Council of ASEAN Chief Justice (CACJ) in 2016 and inscribed as an entity associated ASEAN under Annex 2 of the ASEAN Charter in 2017. Justice Lee has been and remains intimately involved in ALA and CACJ proceedings and activities.
In 2017, Justice Lee was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (Pingat Jasa Gemilang) by President Halimah Yacob for his role in the technological transformation of the courts and legal sector, and his services in the Legal Service Commission.
In 2022, the Singapore Computer Society conferred on him the Digital Achievers Award in recognition of his contributions to the development of IT in the legal sector.
Membership in Authorities, Commissions, Boards and Associations
English and French
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